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Bush Endorses McCain; Clinton Snatches Momentum in Presidential Race; What Will Happen to Florida and Michigan Delegates?

Aired March 5, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, excitement and tension building. Hillary Clinton snatches momentum from Barack Obama. But he could claim a partial victory as we await more voting results in Texas.

The road to the White House won't be easy. But who will ultimately which Democrat gets a shot, voters like you or will it be the superdelegates?

And the president teaming up with the man who will run to replace him. And they both essentially tell the Democrats, bring it on.

All that coming up -- plus, the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Fresh drama and an element of suspense unfolding between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton has the bragging rights after winning three of the four contests. One is Texas. But Texas also held both a primary and the caucuses, and the results of those caucuses remain unclear -- 67 delegates are at stake in the caucuses.

The voting -- the vote counting continues. But there is no doubt about Clinton's primary wins. In Texas, she edged out Obama by three points, in Ohio, 10 points. And Clinton beat Obama in Rhode Island, serving him an 18-point defeat. Obama did win Vermont very impressively, a wide margin of 20 points. And he does still lead in the all-important delegate count.

We have CNN reporters covering every angle. They are on the ground in Texas, Arkansas, Washington, as well as here in New York.

Let's start with Jessica Yellin. She's in San Antonio. She is getting reaction from the Obama camp on Clinton's wins yesterday -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Obama campaign is saying that Hillary Clinton won basically by going negative. I talked to one of his top advisers who said Clinton has been on a search and destroy mission. Those are his words. He also insists that Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination, pointing out Obama has more votes, more delegates and he insists he will keep his momentum going forward.


YELLIN (voice over): This much is clear...

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For everyone who works hard and never gives up, this one is for you.

YELLIN: ... the race is far from over.

CLINTON: We're going forward here. This is a close, close contest.

YELLIN: Senator Obama is portraying yesterday's results as a wash...

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We end up emerging with essentially the same delegate count that we had going in.

YELLIN: ... and a reflection of a Clinton campaign grown desperate.

OBAMA: There's no doubt that she went very negative over the last week. She's yet to cite what experience in fact prepares her for that 3:00 a.m. phone call.

YELLIN: Today, Obama is taking a page from the Clinton playbook, prodding the media to turn its lens back on his opponent.

OBAMA: Many of you in the press corps have been persuaded that you had been too hard on her and too soft on me. And so, you know, complaining about the refs apparently worked.

YELLIN: His senior adviser saying, the vetting of Hillary Clinton has yet to begin, and pointing out she has not released her 2006 tax returns, the donor list to the Clinton Library, or her papers as first lady, though those years in the White House are the basis of her argument about experience.

Now both campaigns are primed for a long fight. So far, Obama has won 28 primaries and caucuses. Clinton, 16, including most of the biggest states.

Next up, Wyoming and Mississippi. Then it's on to Pennsylvania, which could end the race, or maybe not.


YELLIN: And in response to the Obama campaign's charges, Clinton's communications director says Senator Clinton has released years of tax returns and she plans to release her most current tax returns after April 15. He also calls on the Obama campaign to release all information regarding Barack Obama's interactions with indicted former backer Tony Rezko -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, thanks. In the end, though, it is all about the delegates.

Let's bring back our chief national correspondent, John King. He is watching this story for us.

And you are becoming an expert. Let's look ahead now because the delegate race, that's what it is all about.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is what it is all about. And as this gets increasingly personal, as Jessica was just noting, the Obama campaign put out a statement today saying, well, Hillary Clinton can't win. Why is she staying in the race? Even if she wins all the rest of the states, she won't get to the finish line.

But, Wolf -- and we will take you through a couple of scenarios, as many as you would like -- very hard for him to win, too. Let's just look at what we have going forward. And let's take some assumptions. We assume -- I'm going to click up on Barack Obama.

BLITZER: That's in part because of the proportionality.


BLITZER: There's no states on the Democratic side that are winner take all.

KING: You can't take winner take all unless you win -- unless you keep your opponent from under 15 percent of the vote and you win all the congressional districts, you essentially run the board. And these candidates have not been doing that.

So, let's take a quick look. Here is about where they are. Senator Obama does have a lead right now. This is the finish line way out here. He's narrowly ahead. He is a little more than 100 delegates ahead in the pledged delegates. She has a slight advantage among the superdelegates. Most of them are now holding on to -- waiting to see what happens as the race goes on.

He's favored to win in Mississippi. So, we will give him Mississippi. And that's a 55/45. He's favored to win out here in Wyoming, which doesn't want to click at the moment for some reason. Let's see what we can do here. Touch that. Try to see if we can get that to work. There we go. We will give that to Barack Obama. So he starts to inch up a little bit.

Then it becomes who can win the big states as we go forward. Now, she has drawn the line, Senator Clinton has, in Pennsylvania. So let's for the sake of argument say she wins Pennsylvania 55/45. Look what's happening, Wolf. Just watch the numbers. And I am going to clear this so you can see them as they go. She's gaining a little bit. She has not quite caught up. What if -- and this is not in the order they vote -- Senator Clinton wins in this neighborhood? She just won in Ohio. Let's say she wins West Virginia, she wins Kentucky, and she wins Indiana. Again, this is at 55/45. She is coming closer to Senator Obama. She hasn't caught him yet.

Well, he has done well out here in the Mountain West. So let's just say for the sake of argument he wins here and here. And we will even give him Oregon again 55/45. He's inching ahead again. And the last state left on the map here is North Carolina. we will give it to Obama for the sake of argument here. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, they're off the map. here. They still have to vote, but not many delegates at stake there.

So if you trade victories -- if they trade victories back and forth at about 55/45 in those states, Obama is still short. Now, the Obama campaign watching right now might say, well, wait a minute. He will win some of these. OK. Well, let's take some back. We will take off the Telestrator and take some back and give him -- pick one. Assign that to Barack Obama instead. He inches forward a little bit.

I will give him another one the sake of argument. He inches forward a little bit. We will even give him West Virginia for the sake of argument. He inches forward a little bit, but he doesn't get there, Wolf.

So, these Democrats they can trade victories now. That's at 55/45. I could do it at 65/35. And somebody gets out here, but they still don't get to the finish line.

BLITZER: That's why these two states, Florida and Michigan, potentially could be so critical, if they do a redo or they come up with some other formula.

KING: You should feel free at any moment to reach out and do this. You can touch it. You can be John Madden. You can be John King, anything you want.

Michigan and Florida, Howard Dean faces a big decision. The Clinton campaign is already saying they should count. The Republican governor here, the Democratic governor here came out today and said our delegates should count. This is going to be a huge fight because no matter how you do the proportions looking forward, almost impossible for either one of these candidates to get to the finish line with pledged delegates.

BLITZER: Get the lawyers ready.

KING: Get the lawyers ready. That's right.

BLITZER: All right, John, thanks very much.

Once bitter foes, President Bush and the man who hopes to succeed him were over at the White House side by side today, the president formally endorsing John McCain as the Republican presidential nominee. Let's go to Dana Bash. She is in Washington watching all of this unfold.

Dana, this was a very impressive day for John McCain over at the White House.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, today's event, Wolf, was once unthinkable. Eight years after George W. Bush crushed John McCain's bid for the Republican presidential nomination, the sometimes awkward but always pragmatic political partnership they built from the bitterness of 2000 came full circle.


BASH (voice over): An early president was left to awkwardly shuffle his heels in front of the cameras. An anxious wait for John McCain. Then a formal White House greeting meant to show his respect and the changing of the GOP guard. After a private lunch, the one- time bitter rivals appeared side by side for a political blessing.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John showed incredible courage, strength of character and perseverance in order to get to this moment. And that's exactly what we need in a president, somebody who can handle the tough decisions.

BASH: Unprompted, the new presumptive Republican nominee answered a key question of his candidacy. Would he enlist the unpopular president to help? Yes.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I intend to have as much possible campaigning events and -- together as is in keeping with the president's heavy schedule. And I look forward to that opportunity.

BASH: McCain plans to use the president to raise money for what is still a cash-strapped campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.

BASH: His advisers hope Mr. Bush, still popular with the GOP base, helps rally a dispirited base around a nominee many do not trust. But Mr. Bush's approval rating with Independent voters McCain is courting is only 26 percent, and Democrats promise to use this embrace against McCain.

BUSH: It's not about me. You know, I have done my bit.

BASH: The president may not like it, but he gets it. There will be times McCain will keep his distance.

BUSH: If by showing up and endorsing him helps him, or if I'm against him and it helps him, either way I want him to win. I'm going to be in Crawford with my feet up. He's going to be sitting in there behind that desk making decisions on war and peace. And I'm thankful our party has nominated somebody plenty capable of making those decisions.


BASH: McCain advisers say they hope to get the president out raising money as soon as possible, but those same advisers tell CNN not to expect the presumptive nominee to appear side by side much with Mr. Bush -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, thank you.

Let's bring back Jack. He has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Don't silence more than 5.1 million Americans, that's the message coming from Florida and Michigan.

And this afternoon, the governors of these two states, Charlie Crist and Jennifer Granholm, joined together and are now calling on the Democratic and Republican National Committees to seat their delegates at the conventions. They say it's intolerable that the political parties have denied their citizens their votes, especially since Americans have turned out in record numbers to exercise that right.

But Michigan and Florida chose to disobey the rules and moved up their primaries knowing full well their delegates would then be ruled irrelevant and would not be seated at the convention. They did it anyway.

Now Hillary Clinton is claiming that she won these two states, despite the fact that Barack Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan and didn't campaign in Florida. She included both those states in her speech last night as she rattled all the battleground states that she's won so far. This is unbelievable.

Clinton wants the delegates from Florida and Michigan to be seated at the convention, saying that it would be a mistake for the Democratic Party to punish these two states. Two of Clinton's backers, Terry McAuliffe and the Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, are now talking about the possibility of a re-vote in Florida and Michigan.

When it comes down to it, these delegates could make a big difference to either Clinton or Obama, considering that neither candidate likely will win enough delegates in the remaining contests without the help of the superdelegates.

So, the question is this: What role, if any, should Michigan and Florida play in picking the eventual winner between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?

Go to Post a comment on my blog.

The other this that was not addressed is if they decide to have do-overs, who is going to pay for it? The answer is probably the poor schlump taxpayers in Michigan and Florida, who already have financed two primaries that don't count. BLITZER: Normally, the states, the taxpayers, pay for primaries. The parties pay for caucuses. That's the big difference. We will see what happens.

Jack, good question.


BLITZER: It's the political equivalent of floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.


MARIO CUOMO (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: The best way to get ready for the championship bout is to box before you do. These are boxing matches that get you in shape for the main bout.


BLITZER: The former New York Governor Mario Cuomo on the main event between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. How many rounds might it go? Mario Cuomo here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And how do you sway someone who can do anything they please? How much work will it take the candidates to win over those superdelegates?

And tense maneuvers between two neighbors. Why is Venezuela putting thousands of troops on its border with Colombia right now?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: He's a spellbinding speaker who has rallied Democrats to the cause for years. This year, he says the Democrats have two strong candidates, but he warns that the party may need them both to beat John McCain.


BLITZER: Joining us now, an elder statesman of the Democratic Party, former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo.

Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

CUOMO: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: All right. You know politics. Who is going to win the Democratic nomination? Would it be Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?

CUOMO: It will be one of those, for sure.


(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Obviously, it will be one. Who do you think?

CUOMO: Well, I think there are 48 days to go between now and the next big event. Every day of those 48 days, something is going to happen.

BLITZER: You're talking about the Pennsylvania primary.

CUOMO: Yes. So, it is very hard to know.

BLITZER: But you could see it going either way?

CUOMO: Oh, very definitely. It is an entirely different race now. Obama started as a phenomenon right out of the bat. He's the best orator I have ever heard or seen. Fantastic. And he was so good that he mesmerized people in the beginning.

BLITZER: So, what happened last night?


CUOMO: He reminded me of Reagan in 1980. He had a wonderful message. The years previous had made us all hope for change. He used change. And that's all he needed. And it became a phenomenon. It had momentum. When you have momentum, you don't even need argument.

BLITZER: So, what happened last night?

CUOMO: He lost.


CUOMO: And because he lost -- because the prose caught up to him. I had this expression, you campaign in poetry. You govern in prose. The best thing is to combine the two. He was mostly, I think, poetry. She was prose. And the prose won.

BLITZER: So, he couldn't withstand the prose, as you are saying?

CUOMO: I think so.

BLITZER: Some have suggested, you know, he takes a punch, he may have a glass jaw. He can't take that kind of hit and keep on fighting.

CUOMO: His strength -- he is very intelligent. And now it is going to be a different race. Now he's not going to be able to win the way he won the first time around, with these splendid speeches. Now he has to match her on the prose.

BLITZER: So, he has got to get tough?

CUOMO: Now he has to get tough and specific. And he's doing it. And the way they will do it, both of them, I think, to some extent, is make the case against McCain. And what they will do is not make the case so much against one another, except in terms of, I'm better at beating McCain.

BLITZER: Who is better? In your opinion, who would have the stronger shot of beating John McCain? And you are a good Democrat.

CUOMO: I think they both would have a pretty good shot. There's one interesting thing about Hillary against McCain. Hillary's weakest point now is the war, because she participated in authorizing the war, illegally, is my opinion. But that's for another day.

That won't be an issue against McCain. He's obviously not going to complain about her position on the war. So, she is stronger against McCain than she is now against Obama on the biggest issue of all, the war.

BLITZER: Her weakest point among the Democrats.


CUOMO: Yes, because Obama can say, I was against it and she was for it. That's not an issue when she takes on McCain.

BLITZER: How worried are you about that this kind of fight between these two Democrats will hurt the eventual nominee, hurt the party in November?

CUOMO: The best way to get ready for the championship bout is to box before you do. These are boxing matches that get you in shape for the main bout. This notion that, oh, you are going to hurt one another, you are saying bad things about one another, I -- the person who wins this really Herculean match is going to be a big winner.

And if they are smart enough to stay together -- see, the best combination is poetry and prose. So, they have to stay together in one form or another.

Some people would say, well, look, one of them should be vice president and the other the president. If Hillary were at the top, that would be perfect, because you get the first woman, and then, eight years from now, when he's still a kid, you get the first African-American...


BLITZER: So, you would like to see that dream ticket?

CUOMO: I would like to see it one way or the other. But what I want most of all is that they stay very closely together after the final decision.

BLITZER: A lot of Democrats say it is the dream ticket, as you know.


CUOMO: Yes, but one way or another, we need all the people that Hillary brings, all those people under $75,000, all that middle class, all those Hispanics, all those women, and all the people Obama brings, the young people --


BLITZER: It would really energize the party.

CUOMO: We need them both to have a shot.


CUOMO: I'm concerned about McCain. We need them both to beat McCain.

BLITZER: What about Bill Clinton? He has taken a lower profile after South Carolina. Barely saw him the last couple of weeks. Is that good or bad? What do you think? If you were advising Hillary Clinton right now, what would you tell her to do with her husband?

CUOMO: Well, first of all, I would never advise Hillary Clinton as long as Bill Clinton was around, because he is the adviser. And now he has been -- he has been reinvigorated. He had a little trouble back there for a while.

But now remember what he said. He said she has to win Ohio and Texas, and if she does, she is going to win this thing. And if she doesn't, she will be out.

Now, a lot of people disagreed with his saying that about she will be out. But now he's in the best of positions. Now his position was, she's won both those states. Now she is going to win the presidency. So, he's reinvigorated. He will be back a little bit more prudential about some of the things he says. He is very important. He's a great force. And he's going to be important the rest of the way.

BLITZER: Governor Cuomo, thanks for coming in.

CUOMO: Thanks for having me.


BLITZER: Unfair and possibly illegal, that's how Canada's prime minister views the leak of a memo revealing Barack Obama's economic adviser's comments on trade. He wants an investigation.

And the FBI director says the bureau may have improperly spied on you. We are going to tell what you he is doing about it.

Stay with us. Lots of news happening -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton snaps her losing streak. What's the secret of her success? We are taking a closer look at the strategy that helped turn things around with the voters. And speculation surging about a Democratic ticket with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on it. Even CNN's Jeanne Moos is talking about it.

Plus, John McCain gets President Bush's seal of approval. But will his former rival's endorsement help or hurt McCain's campaign? We are taking a closer look with the best political team on television.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, Hillary Clinton's campaign comeback. Now she has got some momentum, defying some pundits who have been writing her campaign's obituary for weeks. We are going to show you how she did it.

But it is looking increasingly like the Democratic contest will come down to the superdelegates. We are going to find out what Clinton and Barack Obama have to do to try to win them over.

And President Bush endorsing John McCain, both men saying he will be there for McCain on the campaign trail. But will Mr. Bush help or hurt the presumptive Republican nominee?

All of this coming up, plus the best political team on television.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Hillary Clinton says her trio of victories in yesterday's primaries have swung momentum in her favor. So, how did she snap that losing streak?

Let's go to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He is joining us now.

Here's the simple question, Bill: How did she do it?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: A two-pronged strategy, populism and toughness.


SCHNEIDER (voice over): January, New Hampshire, February, Super Tuesday, March, Texas and Ohio -- Hillary Clinton, the comeback-of- the-month kid. How did she do it? A two-part strategy. First, she expanded her populist base.

Barack Obama inspires...

OBAMA: Can we send a message to all those weary travelers beyond our shores, who long to be free from fear and want, that the United States of America is and always will be the last best hope on Earth?

We say, we hope. We believe, yes, we can.

SCHNEIDER: Hillary Clinton delivers...

CLINTON: The question is not whether we can fulfill those dreams, it's whether we will. And here's our answer...


CLINTON: Yes, we will.

SCHNEIDER: In Ohio and Texas, Clinton expanded her support from constituencies that need government to deliver for them. Seniors voted 57 percent for Clinton on Super Tuesday last month. This Tuesday, her senior support grew to 67 percent in Texas and 72 percent in economically hard-pressed Ohio.

Among non-college-educated blue-collar voters, her support rose from 58 to 62 percent and 65 percent. Her support grew among rural voters, as well. Voters worried about their financial situation gave Clinton double-digit margins over Obama -- no small group. Sixty- eight percent of voters in Texas and 77 percent in Ohio had financial problems.

She also had late momentum. Voters who decided in the last few days of the campaign voted about 60 percent for Clinton. Among voters who made up their minds earlier, the race was much closer.

What did she do in the last few days? She got tough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 3:00 a.m. And your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

SCHNEIDER: Democrats in Texas and Ohio said Clinton was more qualified than Obama to be commander-in-chief. And that may have boosted her support from one of the toughest constituencies of all -- white men.


SCHNEIDER: Democratic voters in Texas and Ohio were more likely to say Clinton has a clear plan to solve the country's problems than Obama does. But they were also more likely to say Obama inspires them about the future of the country. She delivers, he inspires -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Bill, thank you.

Let's talk a little bit more about the Clinton comeback. For that we're joined by our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, our own Jack Cafferty and senior analyst, Jeff Toobin. They're part of the best political team on television.

You've got to give Hillary Clinton credit. She's a fighter. She didn't give up. She didn't surrender, even when it looked very, very gloomy for her. CAFFERTY: Well, she threw a couple of brickbats at him in the last 48 hours of the race and one of them hit him between the eyes and...

BLITZER: Do you think that did it for her?

CAFFERTY: Well, I think, you know, something changed the dynamics of the race. He was winning everything in site. He was stealing from her base.

And all of a sudden the allegations about NAFTA and some of the other issues that she raised in the closing hours of the campaign. And that commercial that they ran last week about the red phone and the little babies, appealing to the women in the audience -- mothers take care of your children, don't let this inexperienced guy at the controls had to have something do with it.

However, all that being said, today the sun came up and she's still is way behind in the number of delegates. So it was a feel good moment for Hillary Clinton and the people who work hard for her --

BLITZER: I wouldn't say way behind. She's behind, but it's within a hundred.

CAFFERTY: She's behind within probably eight or 10 of where she was before all of this started yesterday, so --

BLITZER: Well, how did she do it?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think -- I think Jack is right. I think she threw everything at him. And I think his campaign made some rookie mistakes. I don't know why they didn't fight back on the question of NAFTA that they threw at him.

They put the candidate out there saying something that, in fact, wasn't true. And then they kind of just hung on for 48 hours, as if it might go away and it wouldn't take hold until everybody just came out to vote in Texas and Ohio. And, of course, it did. And I think she raised questions about his competency, which is of course, her big issue.

BLITZER: What's your analysis?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the law of averages, to a certain extent, kicked in. I mean Obama had led such a charmed political existence. He did get very sweet political coverage from journalists. And he made some mistakes. You know, the Canadian business with NAFTA and the Rezko trial starting on Monday was very bad luck for him.

So, you know, all -- it was a bad confluence of circumstances and Clinton was very tough and very effective. And the Clintons are good when their backs are to the wall.

BLITZER: The suggestion is that if he's going to face John McCain, he has to toughen up a little bit. If he can take the heat from Hillary Clinton, he's certainly not going to be able to take the heat from John McCain and the Republicans.

CAFFERTY: He gave some indications on his campaign plan today that he's going to do that. He's questioning what this foreign policy experience she's bragging about actually consists of and he wants to know where her tax returns are, as do a lot of people.

BORGER: Right.

CAFFERTY: And those are the right things, probably, at this point, for him to do. I think he thought he could maybe stay above the fray and run a gentleman's campaign. He forgot who he was campaigning against.

BORGER: Well, it's very hard, also, when you're running a different kind of campaign -- about hope and inspiration -- to suddenly shift gears without looking a little bit hypocritical. So he's got to figure out a way to nuance this, which, by the way I think he can do, because he's going to have to, because she's going to start throwing more things at him, not less.

BLITZER: What do you think?

TOOBIN: Well, the -- both of them are on this weird knife's edge, is that they need to be as negative as possible to win without generating a backlash or damaging the party. And I think they've both managed to do that so far.

I don't think either candidate has said anything that would prevent them from running together or hurting the party. And the party is doing well. They are raising phenomenal amounts of money, huge turnouts in primaries. So I don't think there's any crisis yet.

CAFFERTY: I don't think the Bill Clinton comments will allow them to be on same ticket.

TOOBIN: Really?


TOOBIN: I disagree with that.


BLITZER: Well --

BORGER: How about he gave a speech? That's it.

CAFFERTY: That, too. I mean I -- there's no way at this point.

BLITZER: Howard Dean has just issued a statement, Gloria, saying that he welcomes this agreement by the governors of Michigan and Florida, Charlie Crist and Jennifer Granholm, to come up with some way to make sure that the Democrats in both of these states are represented in this delegate count.

Because it looks right now that neither of these candidates is going to have enough, in terms of pledged delegates, to go over the top. He says if you have an idea, come up with a new option for a re- do, if you will.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Let me see your plan to see if you can come up with a new primary or a new caucus. What do you think about this proposal?

BORGER: It's interesting. Look, I think that the Republicans, particularly in the State of Florida, want to make mischief with this. They'd love to sort of -- they're now saying seat the delegates, Hillary Clinton's delegates in Florida, they can't be disenfranchised.

So there's going to be a lot of mischief making with a Republican legislature, a Republican governor and the Democratic Party. Howard Dean has told the campaigns in no uncertain terms that he will not seat these delegates. But here's --

BLITZER: But now he's saying, in pretty certain terms, come up with a plan...

BORGER: Come up with a plan.

BLITZER: ...and maybe we'll do it.

BORGER: So now we're hearing well, maybe they count the primary in Florida and then they have separate caucuses. You know, there are all kinds of plans being floated out there that --

TOOBIN: What I think is significant about Dean's statement is that the preferred Clinton option, which is seating the delegates who were chosen at these phony baloney primaries, is a nonstarter, off the table.

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: So this is anti-Clinton statement. Whether it goes all the way to an Obama idea of redoing the whole thing, I don't know.

BLITZER: See, the Obama people want to have a caucus and...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ...if they're going to redo it, because he does well in caucuses. The Clinton people would like to have a primary in Michigan and Florida because she does well in primaries.

BORGER: But what if (INAUDIBLE)...


CAFFERTY: The rules were laid down before Florida and Michigan decided to not play by the rules. Hillary Clinton did not play by the rules. Barack Obama played by the rules. Now Hillary Clinton wants to seat the delegates. She said in her speech last night that these battleground states are states that she won. Barack Obama's name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan and he didn't campaign in Florida. But now we want go back and change the rules in the middle of the third quarter during the Super Bowl because one team is losing and hell, we can't that, so let's fix the outcome.

BLITZER: Well, in fairness to Hillary Clinton, she didn't campaign in either of these states either. She promised...

CAFFERTY: She didn't take her name off the ballot either.

BLITZER: She didn't take her name off the ballot in Michigan.


BLITZER: Dennis Kucinich's name was on the ballot in Michigan.

CAFFERTY: Dennis Kucinich isn't a factor in this.

BLITZER: But his name was on the ballot in Florida, too, Barack Obama -- all of their names were on the ballot.

CAFFERTY: Look, the states chose to violate the rules that were laid down for them.

BLITZER: That is correct.

CAFFERTY: Now they want to do a make-over? Come on.

BORGER: Look, as John King was saying earlier, neither one of them has the delegates. So at some point, something has to give.

BLITZER: And I think this statement from Dean is now saying, you know what, give me a plan and we'll take a look at it. And he says that there was an agreement 18 months ago, when they came up with these rules, that if they do this and they want a change, come up with a plan.

BORGER: So they'll come up with a --


BLITZER: They've got the lawyers looking at it.

TOOBIN: We've got five weeks until Pennsylvania. We're all going to go through withdrawal. Maybe we can slide in a Michigan or a Florida just to -- just to keep us going.


CAFFERTY: Oh, swell.

BLITZER: Stand by, guys.


BLITZER: We've got more to talk about. His approval ratings are at near record lows, but President Bush remains very popular with some Republicans. So will he help or hurt John McCain on the campaign trail? We'll have more with the best political team.

Unfair and possibly illegal -- that's how Canada's prime minister views the leak of a memo revealing what an aide to Barack Obama said on the NAFTA agreement. He wants an investigation in Canada right now.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BUSH: If he wants my pretty face standing by his side at one of these rallies, I'll be glad to show up. But they're not -- they're going to be looking at him. You know, I'm going to be in Crawford with my feet up.


BLITZER: It sounds as if he's looking forward to that, Jack, when he's going to be back at his ranch in Crawford.

CAFFERTY: Not soon enough.

BLITZER: Is he going to be a -- this picture of the two of them together...


BLITZER: that going to help McCain get elected or hurt McCain?

CAFFERTY: Well, it depends where they nail those to the phone poles. But there are neighborhoods in this country where it won't be helpful when they start putting those posters up with the little staple guns on the telephone poles. You'll see that picture a lot about September, October, I think.

BLITZER: But he was very gracious today, John McCain...

BORGER: Oh, yes.

BLITZER: ...and, you know, praising the president, saying he would welcome as much help from him as possible.

BORGER: I mean when you think of the history of these two fellows and you go back to McCain's first presidential campaign in South Carolina and the way these guys really hated each other and the fact that their staffs still hate each other, it was kind of a remarkable picture.

And I think that it has to do with Iraq. I think Bush is very grateful to John McCain for the surge, for the ideas and for the support on the war in Iraq. And I think that he looks at the candidacy of John McCain as a way to keep troops in Iraq. That's what he wants.

TOOBIN: I think that's right. But let's not kid ourselves. The -- everything you are going hear from the Democrats is John McCain is running for George Bush's third term. They've already started saying that. And that's a good argument in a country where Bush is very unpopular.

BLITZER: If you say you want more Bush, vote for John McCain.

TOOBIN: Yes, vote for McCain. Absolutely. And I...

CAFFERTY: And wait until the economy gets a little worse -- and it will in the next three or four months -- and we wind up in a good deep recession about late summer. McCain is going to have a lot of work to do.

BLITZER: Well, can he disassociate himself -- distance himself from the president?


CAFFERTY: I don't know. Oil was $28 a barrel when George Bush was sworn in. It's $104 right now and could go to $120 soon.

Now, why do you suppose that is? It wouldn't have to do with the policies of the Bush administration or the relationship they have with the oil companies, would it?

TOOBIN: Totally impossible to disassociate himself from Bush.

CAFFERTY: Come on. No.

TOOBIN: I mean it's the same party. They're allied on most of the key issues. Yes, they didn't like each other many years ago. But George Bush and John McCain are politically tied at the hip.

BORGER: Well, but on the war, McCain has said over and over again, you know, I would have fired Donald Rumsfeld. I think the...

TOOBIN: Did he call for Rumsfeld to be fired?


BORGER: He did.

TOOBIN: No, not...

BORGER: No, no, no.

TOOBIN: ... not --

BORGER: He called for him to be fired while -- in the Senate, even before --

TOOBIN: Did he?

BORGER: Yes. Oh, absolutely.

BLITZER: He also had very tough words for Dick Cheney...

BORGER: Absolutely.

BLITZER: ...but he backed away from that later.

BORGER: No, he did.

BLITZER: He was focusing primarily on Rumsfeld.

TOOBIN: I don't remember that.

BORGER: He said I think Rumsfeld ought to be fired, you know, a long-time ago.

CAFFERTY: He also...


CAFFERTY: ... He also came back from a tour of Baghdad and told us what a lovely day it was to go shopping at the bazaar there. And we found out two days later there were 100 Apache gunships and a couple of thousand Marines right in the area where he was doing his walking tour. So I mean he's in bed with Bush on the war all the way.

TOOBIN: And the war, for all that it's gotten somewhat better under the surge...

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: ...and the security situation remains deeply unpopular.

BLITZER: We'll continue this conversation.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Jack, don't go away. We've got "The Cafferty File" coming up.

With the race so close between Clinton and Obama, two states could certainly make the difference. Should Michigan and Florida play a role in picking the next president of the United States?

It's Jack's question of the hour. He's been going through your e- mail. Stick around.

Plus, he raised millions of dollars on the Internet. He got about 5 percent of the vote. But Ron Paul has been concentrating on another election lately. We're going to explain. That's coming up.


BLITZER: In today's Political Ticker, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren't the only ones fighting for their political lives. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich were, as well.

The Texas Republican congressman and the Ohio Democrat were both able to fight off challenges to their Congressional seats in yesterday's primaries. Paul does not face any Democratic opposition in November, while the former presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, will face a Republican challenger in Cleveland.

Unfair and possibly illegal -- that's how Canada's prime minister is characterizing a leak of a government memo about Barack Obama's views on NAFTA and trade. The memo suggested that Obama's criticism of the NAFTA free trade agreement was largely for political show. The prime minister, Stephen Harper, says the leak may have harmed Obama's presidential campaign. He says it will be investigated by the Canadian government.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out And that's where you can read my daily blog post, as well.

Let's get back to Lou Dobbs to see what's coming up right at the top of the hour -- Lou, what are you working on?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.

Coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, much more on this presidential campaign. We'll be asking whether voters or super-delegates will be deciding the Democratic nomination, among other questions we'll answer.

And new evidence of the high cost of illegal immigration -- counties along our Southern boarder with Mexico facing massive costs -- a financial crisis, in fact.

And new concerns tonight about the rising dependence of our financial institutions on cash from foreign governments to stay solvent. We'll have that report.

And rising outrage over the Pentagon's decision to give Europe a huge contract for tanker aircraft. Aerospace Workers Union leader Tom Buffenbarger is among our guests here tonight. Tom says the Pentagon is betraying working men and their families in this country.

We'll examine, as well, tonight, the role of religion in this presidential campaign and in our society. The authors of a provocative new book on faith and policy join me.

Please join us for all of that, all the day's news and much more, straight ahead -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Lou. Thanks very much.

Let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: What role, if any, should Michigan and Florida play in picking the winner between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Anne in Texas writes: "The only role they should play is to sit home at night and read their copy of 'How to Play by the Rules.' They knew the rules, they chose to ignore them. Letting their votes count now sends a very bad message to children -- rules don't matter."

Roger in Florida: "Being a Floridian, I find it appalling some jerks can set a date that impacts the people's selection for the most important job in the world. The ones who moved our primary date should pay for it. I also find it insulting to think my voice doesn't count. Who are these people to take away my voice?"

K.B. in Iowa: "The question ought to be what role, if any, do rules have in determining the Democratic nominee? Everybody knew the rules going in. If you change them now, knowing full well they will favor one candidate over the other, the answer will be rules have no role in this process at all."

Josh writes: "Hillary Clinton agreed to the rules going into this race. Barack Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. At this point, the best course of action is to award the nomination to whoever has the greater share of delegates without Florida and Michigan."

Flash writes -- Flash?-- : "Democratic voters in Michigan and Florida deserve the same representation as any other state. They shouldn't be disenfranchised because the DNC is run by short-sighted whiny boys. If the Democratic Party doesn't allow the Michigan and Florida delegates to count, every Democrat in both states should vote for McCain in protest."

And Ken says: "Should we let the Patriots redo a couple of controversial plays during the Super Bowl, while we're at it? The Democratic Party did this to itself. To have a redo or count delegates as they stand punishes those that did play -- or who did play by the rules."

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thanks very much.


BLITZER: Some Democrats call it their dream team. Others, though, they're more down to Earth.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What everyone is calling a dream team, what would you call it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't talk in terms of dream teams because that's childish. It's idiotic. That's Hollywood speak. Let's talk reality. I'm talking about terra firma here.


BLITZER: Why the talk about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton teaming up on the Democratic ticket just won't stop. Jeanne Moos with a Moost Unusual look, when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this hour's Hot Shots.

In Arizona, water flows through the Glen Canyon Dam. The Department of the Interior opened the tubes to experiment with water levels.

In Zimbabwe, a young girl listens to President Mugabe as he addresses a crowd.

In Colombia, a man rides his bike as trucks wait in line at a checkpoint at the Venezuelan border.

And in New Hampshire, oops -- a boy gaffes after flinging a shovel's worth of snow at his sister.

Some of this hour's Hot Shots - pictures worth a thousand words.

It's too much for some Democrats divided over Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to resist -- the thought of a ticket with both them on it.

Jeanne Moss has our Moost Unusual look.


MOOS: Hillary had barely brushed the confetti from her hair when speculation reignited about these two running as a pair.

(on-camera): What everyone is calling a dream team, what would you call it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't talk in terms of dream teams, because that's childish. It's idiotic. That's Hollywood speak. Let's talk reality. I'm talking about terra firma here.

MOOS (voice-over): While George Bush was physically tap dancing on terra firma, it was Hillary's tapping around this question that reignited the talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they'd like to see you both on the ticket.

CLINTON: Well, that may, you know, be where this is headed.

MOOS: Tap dancing on two networks.

CLINTON: There is a lot of, you know, in that.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: You look great together. I mean it's -- here's two good-looking people.


MOOS: Comedy shows can't resist putting them together. And not just on the same ticket...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'll make you my V.P.

MOOS: Obama and Clinton impersonators are making sweet music together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got 35 years of experience on you.


MOOS: In a takeoff on a song from the movie "Juno"...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hard time lover and a full-time friend.

MOOS: Two California actors created this...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a part-time senator, a full-time friend. I hope you'll be my vice when I kick your rear end.

MOOS (on-camera): But who's on top is the question? And what about the bad blood -- or, as this Spanish paper puts it, "the duel on the death?" What about those mean things they've said?

CLINTON: Shame on you, Barack Obama.

MOOS (on-camera): Do you think they could make friends and be together on the ticket?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You and your sister are mean to each other sometimes and you get along.


MOOS (voice-over): Yes, but if Hillary's commercial implies Barack can't be trusted to handle a 3:00 a.m. crisis call, how could she pick him to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't understand. What's the point of her commercial, she can answer the phone?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's running for president of the United States, not receptionist.

MOOS: For these two to get on the same ticket, divine intervention might be required.

CLINTON: Celestial choirs will be singing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A dream ticket? Yes, I dream of this. Are you kidding? If I ever had a dream of this like this, I'd run to a psychiatrist and I'd say quick, something's got to be done, because I'm hallucinating. MOOS: But Bill Maher is not hallucinating when he says...

BILL MAHER, HOST: Is it just me or did they look like the local weekend news anchor team?


MOOS: Though maybe not covering election returns.

MAHER: Over to you Hillary. That is a lot of puppies.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: You've helped make our politics pod cast, by the way, one of the most popular on iTunes. To get the best political team to go, you can subscribe at or go to iTunes. You can also read my daily blog post,

Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou?